Solomon’s Temple with its superior views and a place for a splendid picnic, is one way to introduce you to one of Buxton’s landmark locations and a wonderful walking area it is too, but then I’d be amiss with giving you a round up of the local history. Grin Low hill dates to the bronze age which I will expand further on in due course, there is of course the local Poole caverns, Romans, the limestone quarry industry, and if you look carefully you can spot the outline of the round lime kilns on the hillside. Solomon’s Temple, known also as Grinlow tower is a hill marker, built originally by Solomon Mycock and rebuilt by public subscription after a public meeting in 1894, at the time only a few stones remained, and due to the prehistoric importance of the site it was decided to rebuild the tower using sketches provided by W. R. Bryden and G. E. Garlick architects , the Duke of Devonshire generously put a subscription of £25 towards the construction of the folly, which after its construction in 1896 a-top of Grin hill, a Bronze Age burial ground, now towers above Buxton with views as far as Kinder Scout and Mam Tor in Castleton on a clear day. A more recent restoration of the 6.1 metre, (20ft) tower took place again in 1998.
Our visit began in the usual way, a random drive through Derbyshire, that being our usual way. Once in view, Solomon’s Temple in Buxton became our picnic destination and view point for the day. I would say a good way to make the best of your visit, especially for the first time, would be to park at Poole Caverns country Park and visitor centre, from there you can gain access to much more. At the visitor centre you can take in the full information of the area, explore the caverns, take a leisurely walk up through the beautiful woodlands and make a full day of it, there is an adventure playground, toilets and even a camp site nearby. Our spontaneous visit was a shorter, more haphazard affair, but nonetheless fun and enjoyable. There are many differing paths leading up to the summit, where we lingered in the sunshine, admiring the stunning views and with a blanket on the ground, enjoyed a tasty picnic spread to nibble at while we sat and pondered. We found some shade for the dogs where they could rest a while too, I must mention our two dogs, they are usually not far away when we’re out on an adventure, big Max and little Bandit, but on this trip, we had three with us, Bandit’s brother, Smokey had joined us for the day too.
On exploring at the summit and climbing up the stairs of Solomon’s Temple to the viewing point, there’s the prize, what a sight indeed, I could see for at least 15 miles or more over town, hills and moors, absolutely spectacular! If you survey the land from here, the outline of the lime kilns, or ”Pudding pie kilns,” can be easily recognized as are the Bronze Age burial mounds, the tower itself is built on top of a Bronze Age burial mound, a site of ancient significance, which when excavated as part of an archaeological dig, ancient skeletal remains were discovered from the Beaker period as well as Roman artifacts.
Back in time this area would have been strewn with limestone quarries, between the 16th and 19th centuries lime was big industry. The limestone would have been burnt in the lime kilns to produce lime for use in mortar and for farming. The views at that time would not have been so admirable, if you can imagine the big dusty limestone quarries, the waste heaps on the hillside and the smoke from the kilns, not such a pretty sight, but it was work, and for most a working lifestyle, dangerous and dirty work it was too, but supplied the much in demand lime, to builders and farmers alike.
During such a scorching, sunny day we were glad of some delicious, cool shade in the form of woodlands, the dogs too, enjoyed a walk through the sun dappled woodland pathways. Throughout the woods, there are some well-crafted carvings depicting some of the lime workers and quarry men. Information plaques guide the visitor here and will keep the history alive. Buxton is known well for it’s Roman history and of course for its Victorian spas and Opera House, but there’s so much more to the history and lot’s to be explored close by and of course those splendid views!
For us, after a circular up to the summit, views for miles over hills and moors, and a tranquil, woodland trail bringing us back around to Solomon’s Temple, it was time to journey home. If you have a little more time you may be lucky enough to spot some of the wildlife here in this site of special scientific interest, such as a pied fly catcher, a greater spotted woodpecker or a tawny owl amongst the many species of trees, ash, willow, rowan and birch trees to name but a few, the 40 Hectare (100 acre) mature woodland is a real treat in its own right. If you are observant you may be able to spot some of the beautiful floral species like the marsh orchid, mountain pansy, leopards bane, or even the common, pretty little buttercup speckling the the hill side. If you like what you see here, maybe you can take a wander up to Buxton’s Landmark and discover the history, the scenery and above all have a lovely day, as we did.